To Sip, Perhaps not to Spill

Dan McGrath’s niece and nephew were leaving the bottle for the sippy cup, and his sister-in-law had nothing but complaints.
Parents of toddlers will recognize those familiar refrains: After a few rounds in the dishwasher, the silicon inserts used to control the flow stopped fitting properly, turning the sippy cup into a spilling cup. Milk and juice spilled everywhere.
When disposable cups became available, McGrath got an idea. McGrath, the president of Churchill Beverage whose family owned Epic Food Marketing in Houston, saw an opportunity to create pre-filled single-serve aseptic sippy cups. SippyTips use a semi-rigid form and have a protective cap and pull strip over the spout and air intake, which preserve the integrity of the product until consumption. SippyTips can be used for both 6- to 8-ounce packages of milk and juice.
He now holds a patent on SippyTips, and says that a “major regional dairy company” will roll these out next year. The suggested retail price is $1 to $1.50 for a three-pack wrap.
“It was an obvious jumping-off point,” McGrath says of sippy cups, which he describes as “ubiquitous and the bottle of choice for 1 to 4 year olds.
“What we’ve developed is a practical methodology that brings down the investment in aseptic beverage equipment lines by over 50 percent using current technology. At the same time we are introducing consumer packaging designs that optimize convenience and safety that actually plays into the consumers’ habitual associations with existing, traditional packaging formats,” McGrath says. “SippyTips will be our first product to market, an innovative, pre-filled, single-serve aseptic sippy-style cup that targets the 9-month to 4-year-old demographic, who by no coincidence have some of the highest consumption rates of fluid milk and juices.”
McGrath says he seized on the trend toward aseptic. “There is a greater reduction of food pathogens,” McGrath says, adding that foodservice would benefit from the SippyTips because a restaurant worker can grab one off the shelf and know that it’s fresh and hasn’t been breached.
This packaging has a lower barrier of entry to the market, McGrath says, by reducing the cost of machinery. SippyTips don’t require a form/fill/seal machine, but combine two technologies into one by using thermoformed plastics combined with a retort process. “It takes the bulk cups and separates them individually on the line, then uses a fill/seal/cap process,” he says. “It lowers capital expenditures by 75 percent.”
McGrath believes that dairy trade associations should be educating the consumer on the benefits of aseptic milk, which he insists should be sold in the dairy case rather than relegated to the dry goods shelf.  “I will not be satisfied,” he says, “until the milk board launches a TV ad during the Super Bowl that announces, ‘got aseptic?’”